Linda Delaney





The blonde haired woman stood in the Great Room of the house on the knoll at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research.  Gazing out through the French doors, she watched the twinkling of lights out in the Channel. The night, several days before Christmas, had turned unusually cold for Santa Barbara, California, even in December. There was a fire in the fireplace, the embers now slowly dying. The Christmas tree was lit, candles glowed around the room.  Music that played softly on the stereo seemed to invade her being. She sighed.


I don’t know if I’m actually going to get everything done in time.  Presents aren’t wrapped, the food shopping for the dinner party still has to be done…, there’s still some decorating left to do…All I can hope for is that we don’t get called out in the next couple of days…


And yet, for all she had on her mind, she was feeling a need to talk.  There was something about the song she’d just listened to that had made her stop and think about everything, and everyone, around her.


Karen Nelson turned to the CD player and stopped it, taking the disk in her hand and walking toward the office in the back of the house.  The house was full of the warm smells and softness that comes with the Christmas season, a wonderful eclectic mixture of cultures and periods that now defined this home. As she made her way down the hall, she picked a book up off the floor, and smiling, wrapped her arms around it as if it were something very precious, which, in a way, it was.


She knocked softly on the door of her husband’s office, and hearing the warm rumble of ‘Come’, opened it and entered. Harriman Nelson was seated at the massive oak desk, a fire roaring in the fireplace, soft music playing, a pen in hand over a pile of papers.


“I thought you might be close to finishing up.”


He looked up at her and sat back in his leather chair, blue eyes weary with paperwork. “Humph… the day I ‘finish up’ all of my paperwork is the day I’ll have been dead for ten years…” He grinned at her, love, warmth and much more twinkling in his blue eyes. He saw her arms wrapped about the book, the CD in hand, “What’s that you’ve got there?”


She glanced down, “It’s Sean’s favorite Christmas book, The Polar Express.  And there’s a song here that made me think of you.”

She moved around the desk just as he rose to take her in an embrace. She put both things on the desk and stepped into his arms, the reassurance of his love flooding her. They stood, for a while, just holding one another, until he said, “Okay…I know you too well.  Something’s on your mind.”

“Ummm, yeah…I guess you could say that.  I was listening to this and well, just a minute…” She stepped out of his arms, went to the multi-purpose sound system and put the CD in. Then she picked up the remote, linked her arm in his, and the moved together to the soft, leather sofa.  He quirked an eyebrow and she smiled back at him. “Just listen to this, okay?”


He grumbled good-naturedly, “Well, as long as I can put my arms around my wife while I’m listening to it….” She leaned into him, kissed him gently, then hit the ‘play’ button on the remote. As the music began to play, she turned her head, which was resting on his shoulder, so she could watch his face, as the singer sang the song…





Children sleeping

snow is softly falling.

Dreams are calling

like bells in the distance.


We were dreamers not so long ago.

But one by one we all had to grow up.


When it seems the magic slipped away,

we find it all again on Christmas day...


Believe in what your heart is saying,

hear the melody that's playing.

There's no time to waste,

there's so much to celebrate.


Believe in what you feel inside,

And give your dreams the wings to fly.

You have everything you need,

If you just believe.


Trains move quickly to their journey's end.

Destinations are we begin again.

Ships go sailing far across the sea.

Trust in starlight, to get where they need to be.


When it seems that we have lost our way,

we find ourselves again on Christmas day...


Believe in what your heart is saying,

hear the melody that's playing.

There's no time to waste,

there's so much to celebrate.


Believe in what you feel inside,

And give your dreams the wings to fly.

You have everything you need,

If you just believe.


If you just believe.

If you just believe.

If you just believe.

Just believe.

Just believe.



Words and music by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard






As the music softly trailed off, she looked up at him and whispered, “That’s you, you know… You believe. I was standing out there, looking out over the Channel and over at the buildings and grounds…  I look at all this, all that you have done and have built…and I know that you really are a believer, Harriman Nelson.”


He kissed her forehead gently and half smiled, “Thanks, Karen.” He sighed, “You know, oddly enough, that song reminds me of a Christmas, when I was about nine or ten, and something that my father said…








‘ The big mansion was filled with Christmas, lights, candles, roping and a huge tree in the formal Living Room. The old house had 18 foot ceilings on the main floor, and the formal living room had a tree in it large enough to touch the ceiling. The tree was covered with blown glass ornaments from Germany and Poland, and strings of lights, tinsel and bead garland. Beneath the tree, was a crèche from Italy; on the marble mantle, wood and glass figurines of ‘The Nutcracker.’  Pine roping and garland hung from the mirror over the mantle, the mantle itself, and any other place in the room that it could be hung from.


A crystal chandelier that hung in the foyer glittered with candlelight, and roping, deep burgundy ribbons festooning it. The warmth of that room spilled over the entire house. Between the servants, the family friends, and relatives, the Nelson home reverberated with laughter and happiness during the Holiday season, and a young Harriman Nelson enjoyed this time of year the best of all. This Christmas, he was nine, and the wisdom that comes with that age is something that makes a youngster full of themself. He was sure that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, having heard all his parents talk and planning while he was not supposed to be listening. But, he reasoned if they believed that he believed, what was wrong with that. It made them happy, and so he was happy too. It made no real difference to him. The presents, the laughter and fun would come whether or not he believed. Part of him was sad that he knew the ‘truth’ of Christmas, part of him didn’t mind. He was ‘grown up’.


He looked once more at the tree, and went to the study to spend some time with his father before they left for the Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Church. William and Elizabeth Nelson were quite firm about the practice of their Faith, and Harriman was expected to embrace it with all the enthusiasm of his parents. He had no other frame of reference, so he did, at least for the time being. He knew he had questions, but he also knew that he didn’t need to upset his parents now, at this age. It would come soon enough, he was sure.


He knocked on William’s study door, and waited patiently. Finally, his father called, “Yes?”


“Father, may I come in?”

“Of course, Harriman” the boy entered the room, closing the door behind him. “What’s on your mind, son?” William Nelson smiled at his only child. Harriman was so bright, he knew, even smarter, now at nine, than he, William ever was or would be. He saw something in the eyes of his son, that made him get up from the desk, and move to the leather couch on the side of the room facing the fireplace.


“Here,” he patted the seat next to him, “Come sit here, next to me and let’s talk about it…”


Harriman climbed onto the couch, silently wondering when he was going to grow tall, like his father.


William Patrick Nelson was six foot tall with sandy red hair, and eyes that were Navy blue in color. He had a high forehead, and a somewhat ‘interesting’ face that sported a nose, broken in two places, from pick up hockey games that had been, played with his cousins when he was younger. Elizabeth Nelson had often suggested he have something done with it, but William felt that his face had character, and often teased his wife, that if a nose was all that she was attracted to, then she had better go and find another husband, with a better looking nose. Then his tiny wife would gently slap his arm, and move onto another subject.


Where William was tall, Elizabeth Bridget Burke Nelson was tiny. She just topped five foot two, and she had the petite build that went so well with her tiny form. Her hair, which she wore down as often as up, was burnished copper.  Young Harriman often thought it looked like flowing metal. Her eyes were bright blue, her skin so fair that the sun was looked on as her worst enemy. In spite of that, she loved the sea, and loved to go sailing, ‘It was worth covering up to feel the sea beneath you, and the wind on your face.’ she often told her son. She loved her husband and son with a passion, and often wished for another child, to share all of their good fortune with. She was active in a dozen charities, trying to make up in some way for the absence of more children. With her son, she was strict and loving, as was her husband, and young Harriman knew that he was loved, and also knew that he had a great responsibility to his family, because of the family’s position.


Right now, all Harriman wanted to do was to talk to his father, ‘man-to-man’.  As he settled into the couch, he waited for his father to begin.


Sensitive to his son, William Nelson asked, “So, what is this all about, Harriman?”


“Well, sir,” the boy began, “It’s Christmas and...”

”…and you want to tell me that you don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, right?”


Harriman was surprised, his blue eyes growing large…  “How… how did you know?”


William smiled at his son, “Well, believe it or not, I was nine once too, Harry.  I understand.”

”But how did you know, Father?  I thought I was doing very well, not letting you or mother know what I thought.”


William chuckled. “I was about nine when I decided that I was a man and I didn’t need the Santa Claus story for Christmas. I had my parents, brothers and sisters. I didn’t need to believe in a fairy tale. Or so I thought…”  William reached for his son and pulled him close, looking down into his son’s eyes. “Never stop believing, Harriman. Always believe in dreams, in the unexpected, in the dreams that you have and the ones you have yet to dream. Believe in the fairy tale, the impossible, the’ it-can-never-happen.’  Believe in the sun and the moon and the stars, and everything in between. Don’t be afraid to be a dreamer, and a builder of the impossible. The only thing that you have to be concerned with is when the dreaming stops.  Because when it stops, you will stop. You have an amazing mind, Harriman.  So amazing that at times, your intelligence frightens me.  Not of what you know, but of what you don’t know and how that may change you. Don’t ever, ever let that amazing mind stop dreaming and believing that the dream will indeed come true. And believe in the fairy tales, because in the dreams that they are made of, the tales may indeed lead to the truth.” He looked into his son’s eyes, and saw the questions and confusion about what he had just said. “Just believe, Harriman. Always believe.”










“That was the closest that my father and I had ever been, Karen. And it’s something that I never forgot.”  He tightened his hold on her a bit and then smiled.  “I guess you didn’t know that you married an old dreamer and believer…  I guess I’ve carried that with me all my life. And I’ll never stop dreaming or believing in the impossible, especially since the impossible,” and then he shifted, pulling his wife into his body, “Is right here in my arms.  And a greater dream that became a reality is upstairs in his room, asleep…”  He paused and then softly kissed her.  “Thanks for believing in an old man’s dreams, Karen Davis.”

“Old man?  Perish the thought.  You’ll never be ‘old’,” she scoffed with a smile.  Her hand lovingly touched his cheek.  “Thank you, for believing in dreams, Harriman.  The dreamer and believer have followers and family. And like you, they also believe.  Merry Christmas, Harry, from all the believers in you and your Dream!”











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